How Do Coaches Prepare?

People ask me how I prepare for a one-to-one coaching session. Looking after ourselves as coaches is important so that we can access as many of our own resources as possible while with our client, so prep is important to me.

It may sound like a cliche, but general health and wellbeing are as important professionally as they are personally. That means that keeping up with my running not only helps me prepare for that trail race that I'm looking forward to; it also keeps me alert and thinking on my feet (excuse the pun). Keeping healthy, though aerobic exercise, lets me access both 'fast' and 'slow' thinking, described by Daniel Kahneman in his book 'Thinking, Fast and Slow'.

Kahneman describes 'slow' thinking as the conscious, rational, deliberate thinking we do when we speak slowly and deliberately. You might think of this, for example, as when you're asked a question by a colleague and then choose your words carefully when answering. By contrast, 'fast' thinking is done automatically, behind the scenes, with little conscious effort. When responding to a colleague's question, you may not want to respond with the first thought that comes to mind, but there are times when it's helpful to pay attention to those immediate reactions (or feelings) that you occur to you in a moment.

These unconscious decisions, judgments, feelings, and reactions are very relevant in a coaching conversation, and being aware of these helps us greatly. We can access more information about ourselves and our coachee (or whomever is in front of us) than if we embarked on a slow, deliberate analysis of the situation.

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